Uncomfortable small talk during every morning elevator commute, hourly glances at the clock, separation of ideas and opinion with the help of cubicles, and strict managerial politics that just leave employees exhausted and hopeless. These are all common symptoms of a workplace that lacks any shred of company culture. Employees learn from the start that their primary goal in the company is to do what they’re told, praise the master, and go home. Any passions or dreams slowly evaporate leaving an unhappy and hopeless being, questioning their worth and sanity.
I am sure this is a reality for many employees as this mindset still exists in numerous companies around the world. In fact, 70% of workers in the U.S. alone are not experiencing any form of workplace engagement and around 88 percent leave due to this fact. What can we learn from this? How about that salary is not the number one factor that dictates a job seeker’s decision when hunting for a suitable career? A corporate mentality that centers on the idea that employees should just shut up and work does not establish any creative ideas nor give a sense of purpose to employees. It further divides co-workers, provides no opportunity to foster new friendships, and instills fear where there should be freedom of expression.
What’s So Special about Company Culture?
By not taking care of employees’ social and emotional needs, employers are passing on the message that they are disposable and replaceable. When these beliefs are embedded in an employee, they lack a reason to care about a company that does not care about them.
Our desire for human interaction and belonging should not only be fulfilled in our personal lives, but in our work lives as well, especially since work takes out a good chunk of our day. Come to think of it, don’t you see your co-workers just as much as you see your family or even more so? Open engagement in a work setting is just as important for a functional and rewarding relationship with an employer as it is with a significant other. Engagement is not just about building relationships but includes the ways employers manage people, the state of the workplace, and the type of people being hired.
A research study discovered that investing as little as 10% in strategies that foster engagement can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. Here’s another thing to think about: Companies that foster engaged brand ambassadors in their workforce report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. Small improvements in culture can mean a significant increase in production.
How Engagement Can Help Marketing Efforts
Employees are the true marketers of a company, they are the ambassadors who can make social profiles and branding efforts explode. Companies need to ask themselves – does each employee out of my 50+ workforce know the company’s strategy, products/services, and target market? Can they transmit this message seamlessly to clients and new hires without questioning the validity of their statements? Around 40% of employees in the U.S. have no idea.
If an organization is looking to double their marketing efforts, giving employees the right tools (social accounts) and environment (freedom of creativity), will give them the fuel to post about events, product launches, and company quirks. If they are being pressed down into conformity and creativity is restricted, employers should expect some unpleasant reviews on sites like GlassDoor which could be detrimental to recruiting and sales efforts. After all, customers will value employee opinion above what’s written on a company’s Facebook or LinkedIn profile. Take a look at HubSpot,Avanade, and Twitter for examples of companies that place their employees on their priorities list.
In addition, company culture lends a helping hand to the marketing department by providing excellent material such as, events, accomplishments, and personal stories that can be used for social posts while taking advantage of employee engagement to further promote current campaigns. Companies who choose to go down the modern path see more than a two-fold increase in revenue compared to competitors living in the dark ages. So what can you do to change your company dynamic around?
How to Sprout Workplace Engagement
Of course not all companies are the same and what one company can afford to allocate to a special budget many not be the case for their neighbor. The suggestions below are merely to show examples of the types of activities and changes an organization can invest in to spin things around within their workplace.
1. Spread the Word.
Employees must be knowledgeable of all company branding, vision, and goals if organizations want them to effectively transmit this message to outsiders. Have quarterly meeting to keep employees on track of latest news, products, and important marketing campaigns. Ensure the message is consistent across all departments.
2. New Hire Workshops.
Host events for new hires to meet the team and learn about company vision. These workshops could also include training, health & safety workshops, and presentations. The purpose is to break the ice, find common interests, and encourage engagement and interaction with other employees.
3. Blow Out the Candles.
Pick a day out of each month to celebrate those whose birthdays have passed. Buying one cake for everyone will be easy on the pocket and will still make employees grateful for the small gesture. It never feels great when the people you see the most forget about your special day. Everyone wants appreciation- start showing it. Even an email or a handshake is better than nothing.
4. Outdoor Team Building.
Host yearly company outings for team building workshops. Try rock climbing, obstacle racing, even volunteer opportunities to get the team to work together on a task unrelated to work, helping them to build trust.
5. Accept Socialization.
Don’t frown upon any interaction that occurs in the office. Work and fear should not be paired together. Further break the barriers of communication by eliminating cubicles and removing head management from isolated offices. This will help decrease the imaginary ranking system in the office, allowing for open communication and networking. Employees will be more likely to ask questions from those who were once disconnected from the rest of the team. Additionally, by removing the superiority complex from head management, employees will begin to feel as if they are all owners of the company, inspiring them to work harder using innovative and cost-saving methods. Look at newly emerging start-ups who are implementing such methods into their workplaces for proof.
6. Lunchroom Breaks.
Moldy sinks and broken microwaves not only raise the question of health and safety but make it the last place you want to eat lunch or take a break from the stresses of the day. Make sure your cafeteria has comfortable seating and enough utensils to make lunch time more pleasurable. We all work better after a relaxed mental break.
7. Let’s Get Moving.
A sedentary lifestyle causes deleterious health consequences and makes it very difficult to work when all you feel is back or wrist pain. No one wants to look like a goofball stretching in the bathroom. If you are in the process of renovating your office, consider creating an exercise room full of yoga balls and mats to provide a comfortable environment for employees to stretch their legs. If you have a gym in the building, offer a discount on gym memberships or offer boot camps that can run during lunch hours.
8. Everybody Loves Free Food.
How about a free meal once a month? It can be simple as ordering pizza! Employees will appreciate the gesture and it will provide an opportunity to mingle and foster new friendships.
9. Add Value.
Working full time, and occasionally overtime, interferes with personal goals. By sitting down with each employee, preferably in the beginning of their journey with the company, and creating a list of goals and personal values, employees will stop seeing work as a leech sucking out the life force of each day but will look forward to coming in everyday knowing that they are moving forward in work and personal achievements. With their consent, post some values and goals around the office to help establish a support system for each employee.
10. Holiday Parties.
Dressing up on Halloween, hosting secret Santa for Christmas, or sharing New Years Resolutions – get the team involved in holiday events during lunch time or after work.
11. Brain-trust Meetings.
We all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and industries hence we can all add a different outlook on an issue if given the chance. Create an open environment where employees are welcome to raise their hands and voices, you will be surprised at the increase of suggestions and solutions.
Cheapness Speaks Louder Than Words
Organizations that follow the old ideology that suggests there is no need to spend extra resources and time on employees will begin to see a drastic decline in performance, and their recruiting department will find it harder and harder to continuously replace the employees that leave to pursue better opportunities. They are also losing their biggest competitive advantage in the business.
Employers need to invest in their people as they are the driving force behind product development and client retention. Employees push the company forward and set goals into action. As a wise individual once said, a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.
Featured photo credit: Employee/ahmad al homaid via flickr.com
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